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National roundup: NBHAAD event, Philly news, Trump decision, HB2 appeal
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-02-14

This article shared 300 times since Tue Feb 14, 2017
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Feb. 7 marked the 17th annual observance of the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ( NBHAAD ), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Black people in the United States and the Diaspora, a National Black Justice Coalition press release noted. In advance of NBHAAD, Black HIV/AIDS advocates from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2-4 to participate in a historic meeting to strategize and chart a course to develop a Black agenda with a comprehensive path forward to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic that continues to disproportionately impact African-Americans.

Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations is ordering owners and staff of 11 gay bars and clubs to undergo anti-discrimination training after a report found that the city's famed gayborhood has been unwelcoming to minorities and trans women for decades, The Washington Times reported. The commission released a report last month based on verbal and written testimony from community members that found Gayborhood businesses "are owned by white, cisgender, males who create preferable environments for white, cisgender male patrons." Philadelphia's gay bars came under scrutiny last fall after a YouTube video showed the owner of ICandy, Darryl DePiano, using the N-word, HeatSt.com noted.

Philadelphia's director of LGBTQ Affairs, Helen L. Fitzpatrick, plans to leave her position amidst complaints from minority activist groups, DailyCaller.com reported. Social groups like the Black and Brown Workers Collective expressed outrage when tape was released in October showing the owner of a gay bar using the N-word. They called for Fitzpatrick ( who makes about $90,000 annually ) to resign, claiming that she was not doing enough to get rid of "racial bias" in the gay community.

Also in Philadelphia, the Kenney administration announced that Amber Hikes, as of March 6, will take the helm of the Office of LGBT Affairs as executive director, a press release stated. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Social Work Program, Hikes has served on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center from 2011 through 2015, and was an organizer for the Philadelphia Dyke March during 2007-2015.

The Trump administration has decided to keep President Obama's top advocate for gay-rights issues at the State Department in defiance of evangelical groups who called for his immediate expulsion, Foreign Policy reported. Randy Berry, the special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons, is continuing "in his role under the current administration," a State Department spokesperson said. The move marks the latest surprise decision by President Trump on gay rights as he juggles the agenda of his staunchly conservative cabinet and top aides, and his cosmopolitan, New York-bred daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

A pair of bills filed in the North Carolina state House call not only for repealing the controversial House Bill 2 but also for casting a wider net for nondiscrimination in the state, WRAL.com reported. ( One would toughen the penalties for crimes in public bathrooms and locker rooms as well. ) An effort to repeal House Bill 2 failed in December; however, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper continue to press for new repeal votes in the General Assembly.

At the Human Rights Campaign gala, Meryl Streep doubled down on her harsh criticism of President Donald Trump, and spoke of having become a target since she first took him on in her Golden Globes speech in January, Page Six noted. "Yes, I am the most overrated, over-decorated and currently, I am the most over-berated actress … of my generation," she said to laughs. She noted that she wished she could simply stay home "and load the dishwasher" rather than take a podium to speak out—but that "the weight of all these honors" she's received in her career compelled her to speak out.

Healthcare professionals can gain a greater understanding of the health needs and challenges of the LGBTQ community in OnCourse Learning's new series of interprofessional continuing education courses, a press release noted. The modules are accredited for nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists and social workers, and soon will be accredited for speech language pathologists. For information or to purchase the accredited CE courses, nurses can visit the Nurse.com website, while allied health professionals can go to ContinuingEducation.com .

Boston is home to the longest-lived bisexual women's periodical in the world. Bi Women Quarterly ( formerly Bi Women ), a grassroots publication, began in September 1983 as a project of the newly formed Boston Bisexual Women's Network. Robyn Ochs, editor of Bi Women Quarterly since 2009, donated the only complete collection of this publication to Schlesinger Library at Harvard several years ago with the agreement that it would be preserved, and digitized in a searchable format. The digitized collection at Schlesinger covers the years 1983 to 2010. Harvard announced that this project is complete, and this resource is now available to researchers and to the general public through Harvard's catalog at id.lib.harvard.edu/aleph/014138036/catalog, and is directly on the web: http://listview.lib.harvard.edu/lists/drs-424386995.

A court granted a name and gender change to Transgender Law Center client a.t. furuya, making furuya the second person in California and the third in the country to obtain "nonbinary" as their legally designated gender, a press releaase stated. The first person in the U.S. granted a legal change to "nonbinary" was Jamie Shupe in Portland, Oregon, who received the order in June 2016. In September 2016, Sara Kelly Keenan, an intersex Californian, became the second person to legally change her gender to nonbinary.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has reportedly upset the "family values" set after a report from the Daily Mail revealed that he attends a pro-LGBTQ church ( St. John's Episcopal in Boulder, Colorado ), according to LGBTQ Nation. American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer tweeted out the article with a warning reading "Be advised: Gorsuch attends a church that is rabidly pro-gay, pro-Muslim, pro-green, and anti-Trump." LGBTQ-rights groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal have come out against Gorusch, who has come down on the side of "religious liberty."

President Donald Trump signed three executive orders "that stand to significantly increase the criminalization and incarceration of some of the nation's most vulnerable populations by broadening law enforcement agencies' powers," the National LGBTQ Task Force stated. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said, "Law enforcement already has too much power, and too much discretion. We don't need anything more to 'stop crimes against law enforcement officers;' in fact, all 50 states have laws that make it a serious crime to assault or kill law enforcement officers. There is no evidence that these laws are underenforced."

Workers at two different LGBT community centers found their offices defaced with homophobic and transphobic slurs, NewNowNext.com noted. Staff at the Los Angeles LGBT discovered "F*ck Trannies" spray-painted in large print outside the building, while the front of Milwaukee's Diverse & Resilient Center was also defaced: Someone wrote "Fag" in spray paint across the storefront—the third time in two months the center has been vandalized.

Lesbian comedian Cameron Esposito turned a hateful tweet from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee into fundraising gold for Trans Lifeline, a transgender support line, LGBTQ Nation noted. Huckabee tweeted a "joke" about how Sen. Chuck Schumer ( who recently shed a tear recalling his family that died in the Holocaust ) would be starring in a remake of the film Boys Don't Cry ( about the brutal murder of transgender man Brandon Teena ). Esposito quickly raised more than $13,000 for Trans Lifeline in memory of Teena.

A transgender doll based on trans teenager and reality TV star Jazz Jennings is set to make its debut at the New York Toy Fair this weekend, NewNowNext.com reported. The doll was created by Tonner Doll Company and is possibly the first ever transgender doll to be manufactured for mass production. The 18-inch figurine, whose plastic body bears no traditional gender markers, was designed by Tonner CEO Robert Tonner, who said Jennings embodies all the characteristics he most admires.

Following the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven released a statement. In part, she said, "Jeff Sessions' confirmation as attorney general is a travesty. The chief lawyer of the United States is now someone who has devoted his whole life to obstructing civil rights. He is a lifelong opponent of the civil rights of LGBT people, people of color, women and immigrants. Sadly, we have no confidence in his commitment to enforcing the law and protecting the civil rights of everyone in this country."

A new study by scholars at the Williams Institute found that sexual minorities are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates, and once incarcerated they are more likely to experience mistreatment, harsh punishment and sexual victimization, according to a press release. The new study, Incarceration Rates and Traits of Sexual Minorities in the United States: National Inmate Survey, 2011—2012, is the first to consider incarcerated sexual minority men and women separately. The report is at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Meyer_Final_Proofs.LGB_.In_.pdf.

The National LGBT Bar Association announces the introduction of the Secure A Fair & Equitable ( S.A.F.E. ) Trial Act to the DC City Council by Councilmember David Grosso that would ban the use of the gay and trans "panic" defenses. The gay and trans "panic" defenses ask a jury to find that a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity/expression caused the defendant's violent assault. The perpetrator claims that the victim's real or perceived status as a member of the LGBT community excuses their loss of self-control.

Equality Utah has asked the federal court to block the enforcement of state curriculum laws and policies that bar classrooms and student clubs from positive discussions of homosexuality in public schools, Salt Lake Tribune noted. Utah's LGBT-advocacy group sued the state school board and the Cache County, Jordan and Weber school districts over the so-called "no-promo homo" laws in October. The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Dee Benson to strike down Utah's curriculum laws as unconstitutional on the grounds that, among other things, they violate First Amendment rights to free speech and 14th Amendment rights to equal protection.

A central Iowa lawmaker has been accused of using a gay slur while making fun of a former political opponent at a public forum, The Des Moines Register reported. State Rep. Ralph Watts, an Adel Republican, said in an interview that the critics are wrong about the slur: They misunderstood a homonym. A video taken at the forum at the Adel library shows Watts referring to business owner Bryce Smith—the Democrat whom Watts defeated in November to win his seventh term in the House—as either "Red Ryder" or "red rider" ( the latter being an anti-gay slur ).

A Tennessee woman claimed she was the target of a hate crime when a dead cow was dumped outside her home. Those responsible also scattered approximately 70 nails near her vehicles, Towleroad noted. Johnson City's Gaelyn Porter believes the events were motivated by the rainbow flags she has hanging from the rafters of her porch. Porter filed a police report when she discovered the cow and later when one of her renters discovered a nail in the tire of her vehicle.

The Jackson, Michigan, City Council has approved a long-debated non-discrimination ordinance following more than 150 comments from the public on the proposal, Detroit Free Press reported. The five-to-two vote came following a meeting that drew nearly 700 people; of those who offered public comment on the proposal, more than 80 spoke in favor. The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

In Norfolk, Virginia, a 21-year-old man will spend 20 years in prison for murdering his ex-girlfriend's relative right after calling him an anti-gay slur, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Destined Clinton George was sentenced for shooting Dorian J. Booker in the face in April 2014 at an apartment. In November, jurors convicted George of second-degree murder and a related gun charge. They recommended he spend 17 years in prison for killing Booker and three years for committing the act with a gun.

On Feb. 13, actor and activist George Takei was slated to present more than 280,000 Care2 petition signatures supporting the Muslim community to leaders of the Muslim Public Affairs Council ( MPAC ) in the wake of President Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a press release stated. Takei was scheduled to deliver his Care2 petition signatures in person to leaders of MPAC during a ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall. He was joined by government officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who attended as a show of support.

The board of OWL National has unanimously decided to wind down operations after 37 years, a press release noted. Tish Summers and Lorie Shields founded OWL in 1980 as The Older Women's League to address issues of special concern for midlife and older women, through education, advocacy and ( through the chapters ) mutual support. OWL National Board Chair Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D. said, "We hope that all OWL members and friends will continue to advocate for OWL issues, and present the 'OWL's eye view' on proposed and actual policy and practices that impact the lives of midlife and older women."

GMHC will honor President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States, at its 35th-anniversary spring gala on Thursday, March 23, at New York City's Highline Stages, a press release noted. Distinguished honorees also include Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays; and HIV/AIDS and LGBT-rights activist Peter Staley. Proceeds will benefit GMHC's services for thousands of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Yale University is stripping the name of a 19th-century alumnus who was an ardent supporter of slavery from one of its residential colleges and renaming it for a more recent graduate, pioneering computer scientist and Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, USA Today noted. The change comes after several years of debate over the ethics of having a college named for former Vice President John C. Calhoun, an 1804 Yale graduate who fought efforts to end slavery in the United States. Protests over Calhoun's legacy and the building's name roiled the university in 2015. Geraldo Rivera has quit his post over the name change, citing political correctness.

The family on the TV reality show Sister Wives and several hundred other protesters in polygamous relationships and their supporters said they won't stop fighting for the legal right to plural marriage, LGBTQ Nation noted. Holding signs that read, "I love all my moms," and "If we were gay, we'd be OK," the group rallied in the rain on the steps of the Utah Capitol. The demonstration came a month after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case from Kody Brown and his four wives on the TLC show Sister Wives challenging Utah's bigamy law.

A Maryland blogger has settled a defamation lawsuit that First Lady Melania Trump filed, Politico noted. Wester Griffin Tarpley, who runs the blog Tarpley.net, has agreed to pay a "substantial sum" and issued a statement apologizing to the First Lady and her family. In August, Tarpley published unsubstantiated rumors that the First Lady had previously been an "escort" and that she was suffering a "nervous breakdown" because of the presidential campaign.

Gay-porn star Colby Keller is standing by his vote for Donald Trump, Out noted. "I'm a little surprised he's as aggressive on 'the wall' as he said he would be," Keller told Mel Magazine, "but I'm not surprised people like Trump and corporate America are going to the lengths they are in a system that's no longer defensible. They'll stop at nothing."


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